Posts by: "Bill Steigerwald"

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One of my many jobs as a newspaper journalist included interviewing smart, interesting people about specialized, controversial subjects like climate change.

In 2007 I interviewed Timothy Ball, a Canadian climatologist who has been fighting the good fight against global warming insanity for years. He is a climate skeptic with a Ph.D. in climatology from the University of London who taught at the University of Winnipeg for 28 years.

It’s easy to see why Ball has made no friends among global warming alarmists. He says that the widely propagated “fact” that humans are contributing to global warming is the “greatest deception in the history of science.”

Like most sensible scientists, he says there’s global warming but it’s caused by the sun, not mankind, and that its effects will be good for us earthlings, not catastrophic.

When I spoke to Ball in 2007, the good-humored Canadian pointed out that his home island, Victoria, in British Columbia, was connected to the mainland 8,000 years ago when the sea level was 500 feet lower.

He and I talked about global warming, ice ages and sea levels. Here are highlights:


Q: What is your strongest or best argument that global warming  is not “very likely” to be caused by SUVs and Al Gore’s private planes?

A: I guess the best argument is that global warming has occurred, but it began in 1680, if you want to take the latest long-term warming, and the climate changes all the time. It began in 1680, in the middle of what’s called “The Little Ice Age” when there was three feet of ice on the Thames River in London. And the demand for furs of course drove the fur trade. The world has warmed up until recently, and that warming trend doesn’t fit with the CO2 record at all; it fits with the sun-spot data. Of course they are ignoring the sun because they want to focus on CO2.

The other thing that you are seeing going on is that they have switched from talking about global warming to talking about climate change. The reason for that is since 1998 the global temperature has gone down — only marginally, but it has gone down. In the meantime, of course, CO2 has increased in the atmosphere and human production has increased. So you’ve got what Huxley called the great bane of science — “a lovely hypothesis destroyed by an ugly fact.” So by switching to climate change, it allows them to point at any weather event — whether it’s warming, cooling, hotter, dryer, wetter, windier, whatever — and say it is due to humans. Of course, it’s absolutely rubbish.

Q: What is the most exaggerated and unnecessary worry about global warming or climate change?

A: I think the fact that it is presented as all negative. Of course, it’s the one thing they focus on because the public, with the huge well of common sense that is out there, would sort of say, “Well, I don’t understand the science, but, gee, I wouldn’t mind a warmer world, especially if I was living in Canada or Russia.” They have to touch something in the warming that becomes a very big negative for the people, and so they focus on, “Oh, the glaciers are going to melt and the sea levels are going to rise.” In fact, there are an awful lot of positive things. For example, longer frost-free seasons across many of the northern countries, less energy used because you don’t need to keep your houses warm in the winter.

Q: Is the globe warming and what is the cause?

A: Yeah, the world has been warming since 1680 and the cause is changes in the sun. But in their computer models they hardly talk about the sun at all and in the IPCC summary for policy-makers they don’t talk about the sun at all. And of course, if they put the sun into their formula in their computer models, it swamps out the human portion of CO2, so they can’t possibly do that.

Q: Is the rising CO2 level the cause of global warming or the result of it?

A: That’s a very good question because in the theory the claim is that if CO2 goes up, temperature will go up. The ice core record of the last 420,000 years shows exactly the opposite. It shows that the temperature changes before the CO2. So the fundamental assumption of the theory is wrong. That means the theory is wrong. … But the theory that human CO2 would lead to runaway global warming became a fact right away, and scientists like myself who dared to question it were immediately accused of being paid by the oil companies or didn’t care about the children or the future or anything else.

Q: Have you ever accepted money from an oil company?

A: No. No. I wish I did get some. I wouldn’t have to drive a ’92 car and live in a leaky apartment bloc.

Q: Why are sea levels rising and should we worry?

A: Sea levels have been rising for the last 10,000 years. In fact, 8,000 years ago, sea level was almost 500 feet lower than it is today. It’s been rising gradually over that time. It’s risen very slightly in the modern record, but it has risen no more rapidly than it has in the last 8,000 years. One of the factors that people forget is that most of the ice is already in the ocean, and so if you understand Archimedes’ Principle, when that ice melts it simply replaces the space that the ice occupied — even if the ice caps melt completely. What they do is they say if we estimate the volume of water in Antarctica and Greenland, then we add that to the existing ocean level. But that’s not the way it works at all. But it does work for panic and for sea-level rises of 20 feet, like Gore claims.

Q: Why are the sea levels rising, just because we are in a warming period?

A: Yes. We are in an inter-glacial. Just 22,000 years ago, which is what some people can get their minds around, Canada and parts of the northern U.S. were covered with an ice sheet larger than the current Antarctic ice sheet. That ice sheet was over a mile thick in central Canada. All of that ice melted in 5,000 years. There was another ice sheet over Europe and a couple more in Asia. As that ice has melted, it’s run back into the oceans and of course that’s what’s filled up the oceans. But if you drilled down in Antarctica, you go down almost 8,000 feet below sea level. That ice below sea level, if it melts, is not going to raise sea level.

Q: Is there any aspect of global warming alarmism that you are worried about?

A: There are a couple of very minor things. I’m interested in and need more research done on commercial jet aircraft flying in the stratosphere. The research that’s been done so far says no, it’s not an issue, but I think the jury is out on that still.The other concern I have is that we’re totally preparing for warming. The whole world is preparing for warming, but I mentioned that we have been cooling since 1998 and the climate scientists that I respected — particularly the Russians and Chinese — are predicting that we’re going to be much, much cooler by 2030. So we’ve got completely the wrong adaptive strategy.

Q: Is it not inevitable that we will have another ice age?

A: Yes, I think there is another ice age coming, because the major causes of the ice ages are changes in the orbit of the Earth around the sun and changes in the tilt of the Earth. Those are things we’ve known about for 150 years.

Q: If someone asked you where he should go to get a good antidote on the mainstream media’s spin on global warming, where should he go?

A: There are three Web sites I have some respect for. One is the one I helped set up by a group of very frustrated professional scientists who are retired. That’s called Friendsofscience.org. It has deliberately tried to focus on the science only. The second site that I think provides the science side of it very, very well is CO2Science.org, and that’s run by Sherwood Idso, who is the world expert on the relationship between plant growth and CO2. The third, which is a little more irreverent and maybe still slightly on the technical side for the general public, is JunkScience.com.

Q: If you had to calm the fears of a small grandchild or a student about the threat of global warming, what would you tell him?

A: First of all, I probably wouldn’t tell him anything. As I tell audiences, the minute somebody starts saying “Oh, the children are going to die and the grandchildren are going to have no future,” they have now played the emotional and fear card. Just like in the U.S., it’s almost like the race card. It’s not to say that it isn’t valid in some cases. But the minute you play that card, you are now taking the issues and the debates out of the rational and logical and reasonable and sensible and calm into the emotional and hysterical.

To give you an example, I was talking to a group in Saskatoon and a woman came up after and she said, “I agree with you totally. We were having a party for my 7-year-old. I went into the kitchen and there was a bang in the living room. I went back and a balloon had exploded. The kids were crying and I said, ‘Why are you crying?’ And they said, ‘There’s going to be another hole in the ozone.’”

It’s completely false. There never were holes in the ozone, by the way. But when we start laying those kinds of problems onto shoulders that are very narrow, that is criminal. My comment to her was, I said, “Look, let the kids get on with the party. Give them another beer. Let ’em enjoy themselves.”

So I wouldn’t raise these kinds of fear with the children. What I would do with my children and grandchildren is what I’m trying to do with the public and say, “Look, here’s the other side of the story. Make sure you get all of the information before you start running off and screaming ‘wolf, wolf, wolf.’”

The New York Times helped give birth to Castro with its coverage in 1959. See ya. Fidel.
Now it buries him with too many honors.
True, the Times’ long-awaited obituary reminds us of some of Fidel’s less savory traits. But it still tries to balance his 50-year record of oppression and failure with the usual leftist equivalent of the”but-he-kept-the-trains-running-on-time” BS.
 
Yeah, Cuban education was really great. And that medical system too. World class. Maybe Trump can go down and learn how Fidel performed his magic.
Under Fidel’s vile reign, which American liberals spent fifty years excusing or pretending was not vile, Cuba went from one of the richest countries in South America to its poorest — and stayed that way.
Here’s the comment I sent to the Times on Nov. 26:

Another “great” socialist dictator bites the dust — 49 years too late. Castro cared about the poor so much he created an island full of them, plus he made sure they stayed poor and oppressed for half a century. He and his moronic, despotic ideas wrecked his country, freezing it into a 1950s museum/prison. All that dreamery about him improving his people’s education and creating a health care system is a joke, right up there with all that 1930s-1980s swill about the great accomplishments of Soviet society. He gets credit for allowing farmers to sell surplus crops and letting ordinary people open four-seat restaurants, like he’s Adam Smith Jr. He was as clueless about economics as he was human rights. Not sure about the current status of his cigar industry, but the only thing I can think of that Castro’s leadership did to improve the world was give Miami a large middle class of exiles and create a farm system for major league baseball players — if they could fly or swim to freedom.

When I was a real newspaper journalist in ’04 with my own Sunday op-ed column, I made Internet enemies with the late Keith Olbermann, who was hallucinating about vote fraud in Florida and Ohio.116603122-e1424806219751

Olbermann, then a professional ranter on MSNBC’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” went to his grave thinking that Bush II stole Florida a second time.

Shortly before he passed away, I tried to set him straight with this:

Keith Olbermann’s Dan Rather moment

So, America, what’s sloppier?

Our shaky elections system or the jayvee journalism practiced on Keith Olbermann’s fake MSNBC news show “Countdown With Keith Olbermann”?

I cast all of my votes for Olbermann.

The recovering sportscaster is openly liberal and his irreverent, run-and-quip offense is easy to detest. But I kind of like him and his fast-paced infotainment show, which has the fatal misfortune to occupy the 8 p.m. time slot opposite Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Olbermann, however, really made a Dan Rather of himself last week.

He never directly charged that Republicans stole the election or demanded that Karl Rove should be picked up for questioning by the U.N. But for 15 minutes on Monday, Olbermann pointed to a “small but blood-curdling group of reports of voting irregularities and possible fraud” from across the country, topped it with some vague partisan innuendo from Democrat Congressman John Conyers, and acted like he deserved a Peabody Award for Civic Journalism.

On Tuesday I checked out some of Olbermann’s claims. Using a high-tech personal communication device professional journalists refer to as a “telephone,” I called an elections bureau person in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (greater Cleveland), where, as Olbermann pointed out, 93,000 extra votes had been inexplicably cast Nov. 2.

It turns out the votes were “a computer anomaly” that didn’t affect or reflect the official vote count. And those 18,472 votes Olbermann said were counted in Fairview Park, a Cleveland suburb that had only 13,342 registered voters• Absentee ballots from many precincts had been grouped together by the computer and credited to Fairview Park, where 8,421 voted.

But what about Florida, the Vote-Fraud State?

Olbermann had made a big sinister deal about 29 counties whose registered voters were predominantly Democrat “suddenly” voting “overwhelmingly for Mr. Bush.” He slyly left the impression that massive vote-stealing could have been perpetrated by ballot tabulating companies like Diebold, whose bosses were known Bush allies.

I called Baker County, Fla., Olbermann’s first example. Yes, twanged the cheery election lady, 69 percent of voters in her rural county on the Georgia border are registered Democrat. Yes, “Mr. Boosh” got 78 percent of the vote and trounced Kerry, 7,738 to 2,180.

This was nothing new or untoward, she said. Folks in Florida’s Panhandle are conservative, especially on social and moral issues. They mostly register as Democrats and vote that way on local issues, but in national and state elections, they go Republican. Been doing so for years.

I heard the same explanation from election ladies in the tiny and large counties of Calhoun, Lafayette, Escambia, Highland and Liberty, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by as much as 9 to 1. Yet Bush beat Kerry in every one.

If they had cared, Olbermann and the producers of “Countdown” could have discovered these facts before they began flogging their sloppy Internet-spawned conspiracy Monday and Tueday nights. Non-Republican journalists on Salon.com and Slate.com. had no trouble explaining/debunking it. Nor did bloggers.

By Wednesday, Olbermann’s fever had cooled. But he had abandoned the Florida conspiracy angle, explained Cleveland’s oddities and mostly was yukking it up about a Unilect computer that ate 4,000 votes in North Carolina.

Still, he and his guest enabler from the grownup world of journalism, Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, were concerned about the wussiness of the news media. Why had no major print or electronic outlet pursued this shameful story•

I don’t know, boys. Maybe it’s because before they start making wild charges of “vote fraud,” real journalists pick up a telephone.

If anyone knows where Keith is buried, please tell me so I can put some of my old baseball cards on his grave.

Not me, but a brave Uber "driver" in a "driverless" car.

Not me, but a brave Uber “driver” in a “driverless” car.

Gizmodo’s weekend editor Rhett Jones made this childish attempt to impugn Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto for having the brains to welcome Uber to Pittsburgh, for 80 years the worst taxicab town in America.

Late breaking semi-correction: My tech savvier daughter Lucy claims Gizmodo had my comment hidden somewhere, which still makes my point.

Here, as part of my unpaid media crusade to defend Uber against its moronic “progressive” enemies, is my comment, which Gizmodo’s child editors did not see fit to approve:

Pittsburghers were abused for 80 years by a regulated taxicab monopoly that offered terrible “service,” charged some of the highest fares in the country, wouldn’t go into poor or black neighborhoods, refused short trips, put decrepit and smelly cabs on the street (used cop cars and ex-NYC cabs with 200k miles on them). The cab monopoly’s politically connected owners got rich.

This horrible cab system was set up by bad state laws that were written to prevent new cabs from starting. (Black people here invented Uber 80 years ago because they had to — older men with big cars that served their community tenderly; they still do and Uber is no threat to them. Jitneys were completely illegal; everyone knew it but cops and regulators left them alone because they served poor people in ways the taxi monopoly did not and could not because there were so few cabs.)

Pittsburgh in the mid 1990s had the fewest number of cabs per capita than any major city. The Yellow Cab monopoly that existed for 80 years would still exist today if Uber hadn’t come along and, as commentators below point out, saved the people of Pittsburgh and given them reliable, plentiful and friendly micro-transit. Uber especially benefited the young, especially the poor, especially the black and most especially young women who never have to be stranded on the South Side at 2 a.m. because their cab wouldn’t come.

Mayor Peduto knew these truths and he not only “discovered” Uber he realized how it would change Pittsburgh for the better, which it has. I’m an ex journalist and Uber driver with 3500 Uber rides under my seatbelt. At least 5000 people have gotten rides from me since January of 2015. Not one complained. I heard at least 500 Yellow Cab horror stories.

Pittsburgh and other cities are no longer captive to government-sanctioned and government-protected and government-coddled cab monopolies. The morons who complain about Uber, or complain when enlightened mayors like Peduto welcome Uber to their town or tell state regulators to back off (a rare thing, because most mayors are in bed with the local cab monopolies), need to grow up, read some history and learn about the cozy relations between regulators and what they regulate.

They need to learn what horrors Uber replaced and why those horrors existed for 80 years before a politician did something about getting rid of them. To complain when a mayor — a liberal Democrat — tells state regulators (who are monopoly taxicab company lovers/protectors) to let Uber operate in the Pittsburgh market is childish and stupid.

Peduto did the right thing for his city and his city’s people. Peduto should get praise for what he did. The fact that Uber is setting up shop here and is expected to bring 500 or 1000 jobs here is icing on the cake. For Gizmodo to spend three electrons whining about Peduto’s relation with Kalanick is pitiful.

Gary Johnson and Bill Weld need help.

The two most qualified Libertarian Party candidates to come along in my lifetime are getting lots of mainstream media attention, but they are doing a horrible job of selling and explaining the great ideas and principles they represent.

Have they never watched John Stossel or read Frederic Bastiat or Milton Friedman?

Have they never checked to see what the late Harry Browne said in his speeches or interviews? He wasn’t as qualified as either of these ex-blue-state governors, but he knew how to sell freedom. So did Ron Paul in a far less smooth, but more endearing way.

But Jeeze.

With Trump and Hillary competing hourly to see who is the most evil, this is a golden chance for the LP to capture a double-digit percentage of voters and become part of what passes for the national political conversation. But so far they are blowing it.

These nice guys not just dull, they were apparently each born without a marketing gene. Did they ever run for office or were they both appointed?

They need to come up with a couple of campaign slogans or little “parables” — the kind of stuff libertarians use at bars to try to persuade our clueless liberal friends that we aren’t neo-Nazis.

Johnson has blurted out the line that the Libertarian Twins want government to “stay out of our bedrooms” and “out of our wallets.” That’s a good start — the old “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” one-two.

But he and Weld need to elaborate and expound and offer examples of what that phrase means in terms of privacy rights and tax bites.

How about something like “We libertarians are against all government wars at home and abroad — wars on drugs, wars on poverty, wars on illiteracy, wars on Iraq and all other countries that haven’t done anything to harm us.”

Or how about the campaign slogan Rand Paul should have used but J&W and the LP are actually more suited for — “Peace, Pot and Uber”?

It appeals to the young and the heartbroken ex-Sanders supporters by being against foreign intervention, and for decriminalization of marijuana and other drugs.

It appeals to libertarians for the same reason, plus Uber is a symbol of entrepreneurial innovation, deregulation, free markets, and market-based solutions to bad government-rigged stuff like the monopoly taxicab “service” that has robbed and ill-served our urban populations for eighty years.

Ignorance of Uber by J&W is especially galling to me.

Millions of city people use Uber in the USA every week. It’s the greatest thing to happen to cities since sewers and sidewalks. But every candidate so far has missed the Uber vote — which is under 30, 60 percent female, urban/suburban, and diverse as hell.

As an Uber driver in Pittsburgh with 3,000-plus trips and 5,000 to 6,000 riders in my career, I can attest that 99.7 percent of Uber users love it — despite the nonstop attack against it by a mainstream media that has no clue about what Uber has done to improve life in cities and why it’s a win-win-win deal for drivers, previously stranded females, and a more sober society.

So what if under-30s don’t vote that much. Appeal to them the right way — with Uber and decriminalized drugs — and they might cast their first vote for a libertarian.

With a little help from Wikipedia and some others, let’s dig up the holy remains of Robert Green “Bob” Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899), who, though a lawyer and a political leader, was one of America’s greatest publicists of individual liberty and bashers of religion.

As can be seen below in an excerpt from his famed 1876 Fourth of July speech, Bob Ingersoll was not only one of America’s greatest orators. He was “The Great Agnostic” who understood what the Christian and Muslim world still doesn’t understand — that no religion should ever be given the power of the sword or the bullet.

To put it simply, Ingersoll hated religion — he was a much smarter libertarian Bill Maher of the 19th century.

The whole Declaration of Independence speech in Indianapolis is kindly printed here, http://lectures-by-ingersoll.blogspot.com/2012/04/declaration-of-independence.html as are more than 40 of his other orations and lectures.

Here’s a video that introduces him to strangers.

Bob Ingersoll, unchristian

Bob Ingersoll — Go to Hell, Christianity.

Here are some great quotes from great men and women who praised the greatness of Ingersoll.

And here’s an excerpt that proves Ingersoll is a superstar of yesteryear who needs to revisited, revered and respected by libertarians of every stripe.

The Declaration of Independence

…. They met in Philadelphia; and the resolution was moved by Lee or Virginia that the colonies ought to be independent states, and ought to dissolve their political connections with Great Britain.

They made up their minds that a new nation must be formed. All nations had bee, so to speak, the wards of some church. The religious idea as to the source of power had been at the foundation, of all governments and had been the bane and curse of man.

Happily for us, there was no church strong enough to dictate to the rest. Fortunately for us, the colonists not only but the colonies differed widely in their religious views. There were the Puritans, who hate the Episcopalians; the Episcopalians, who hated the Catholics; and the Catholics, who hated both, while the Quakers held them all in contempt. There they were, of every sort and color and kind, and how was it that they came together? They had a common aspiration. They wanted to form a new nation. More than that, most of them cordially hated Great Britain; and they pledged each other to forget their religious prejudices for a time, at least, and agreed that there should be only one religion until they got through — and that was the religion of patriotism. They solemnly agreed that the new nation should not belong to any particular church but that it should secure the rights of all.

Our fathers founded the first secular government that was ever founded in this world. Recollect that. The first secular government; the first government that said every church has exactly the same rights, and no more; every religion has the same rights, and no more. In other words, our fathers were the first men who had the sense, who had the genius, to know that no church should be allowed to have a sword; that it should be allowed only to exert its moral influence. (Applause.)

You might as well have a government united by force with Art, or with Poetry, or with Oratory as with Religion. Religion should have the influence upon mankind that its goodness, that its morality, its justice, its charity, its reason, and its argument give it, and no more. Religion should have the effect upon mankind that it necessarily has, and no more. The religion that has to be supported by law is without value not only but a fraud and a curse. The religious argument that has to be supported by a musket is hardly worth making. A prayer that must have a cannon behind it better never be uttered. Forgiveness ought not to go in partnership with shot and shell. Love need not carry knives and revolvers.

So our fathers said: “We will form a secular government, and under the flag which we are going to enrich our air we will allow every man to worship God as he thinks best.” They said: “Religion is an individual thing between each man and his Creator, and he can worship as he pleases and as he desires.” And why did they do this? The history of the world warned them that the liberty of man was not safe in the clutch and grasp of any church. They had read of and seen the thumb-screws, the racks and the dungeons of the Inquisition. They knew all about the hypocrisy of the olden time. They knew that the church had stood side by side with the throne; that the high priests were hypocrites, and that the kings were robbers. They also knew that if they gave to any church power, it would corrupt the best church in the world. And so they said that power must not reside in a church, nor in a sect, but power must be wherever humanity is – in the great body of the people. And the officers and servants of the people must be responsible to them. And so I say again, as I said in the commencement, this is the wisest, the profoundest, the bravest political document that was ever written.

They turned, as I tell you, everything squarely about. They derived all their authority from the people. They did away forever with the theological idea of government.

And what more did they say? They said that wherever the rules abused this authority, the power, incapable of destruction, returned to the people. How did they come to say this? I will tell you; they were pushed into it. How? They felt that they were oppressed; and whenever a man feels that he is the subject of injustice, his perception of right and wrong is wonderfully quickened.

Nobody was ever in prison wrongfully who did not believe in the writ of habeas corpus. Nobody ever suffered wrongfully without instantly having ideas of justice.

And they began to inquire what rights the king of Great Britain had. They began to search for the charter of his authority. They began to investigate and dig down to the bedrock upon which society must be founded, and when they got down there — forced there, too, by their oppressors; forced against their own prejudices and education — they found at the bottom of things, not lords, not nobles, not pulpits, not thrones, but humanity and the rights of men. (Tremendous cheering.)

And so they said, we are men; we are men. They found out they were men. And the next they said was: “We will be free men; we are weary of being colonists; we are tired of being subjects; we are men; and these colonies ought to be states and these states ought to be a nation; and that nation ought to drive the last British soldier into the sea.” And so they signed that brave declaration of independence….